Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom (1982)
By: Sega Genre: Shooting Players: Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 23,297 (one credit)
Also Available For: Master System, SG-1000, PC, MSX, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, ZX Spectrum, TI-99/4A, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari XE, ColecoVision, Coleco Adam, Intellivision
Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

It may have taken a few years but it still wasn’t long before the first few licensed video games started to appear. One of the first such games to grace an amusement arcade was this example, by my beloved Sega no less, and was based on the (mis)adventures of Captain Rogers. Well, I say ‘based’ but this is a game that, name aside, has pretty much nothing to do with the source material – something that would become a familiar story in the years to come – but as we all know, that doesn’t necessarily make it a sucky game, just an unfaithful one. Planet of Zoom, for example, takes the form of an into-the-screen shooter. Nothing unusual there for a 70’s sci-fi show, I’ll grant you – plenty of shooting done in most of those. However, as long as it might have been since I’ve immersed myself in the gallant exploits of Buck, Wilma, and Twiki, nothing else from the game seems familiar.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t even be sure that we’re playing the game as Buck! Oh well, whoever may be at the controls, it’s your job to guide their ship through a tonne of dangerous stuff, and the best means of doing this is by blasting the crap out of it all. To this end, the ship offers unlimited use of its cannon, and you can also move it around the screen freely and increase or decrease its speed as you see fit. Each round is divided into eight stages (or sectors) of which there are three types – trench (as seen in the screenshot to the right), open space (next shot down), and planet (bottom shot) – but the object of each is the same; namely, to either fulfill an enemy quota or to finish within the time limit. If you can take down the required number of enemies before the time expires, you’ll move on to the next stage with any remaining time awarded as bonus points. If the timer runs down before you do this, you’ll still progress but with no bonus.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

Most of the stages merely pit you against various kinds of oncoming enemies which include many flying saucers, hopping ground-based buffoons, red/purple versions of your own ship (almost), fast winged vessels, and angry-looking grey/red craft. As well as being mighty dangerous by themselves, most of them can also fire missiles and stuff at you, and there are also a few other hazards too. One of the trench stages features a series of barriers with gaps on the left, right, or middle, one of the planetary stages has a load of weird slalom-style gates (which offer only your continued existence as a reward for passing though them), and there is also a stage featuring a much larger boss ship which, for some reason, attacks with its back to you allowing you to simply blast all four of its engines to see it off. Defeating this befuddled clot isn’t too hard and each time you do it’s on to the next round where the stages are in a different order.

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom

This process goes on forever as far as I can tell, which means things could potentially get more than a little repetitive. Fortunately, the action is fast and involving enough to keep this from setting in too much. The stages all look the same each time they’re repeated but they work well – the scrolling is pretty fast and the enemies move quickly via some superb scaling. The colouring is also impressive with lovely pixelly explosions, nice shaded skies, and even some occasional eye-melting psychedelic effects on some spacey stages. The sound is a little more basic, consisting only of a constant blooping sound (the ship’s engine?), as well as shooting and explosion effects. They’re loud though, and do contribute to the enjoyment of Buck’s adventure which is a pretty decent one. I think it’s clear Sega’s inspiration for Space Harrier lies here, and the later game is understandably the one that’s more fondly remembered, but I was pleasantly surprised by its spiritual predecessor which is more playable in some ways as well as being slightly easier. Buck and friends may have a pretty limited involvement but they can still be fairly proud of this.

RKS Score: 7/10

E3 2011: Classic Gaming Museum

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

My eyes lit up like a LED screen when I came across this section at E3 2011. Normally, there would be a small section with a few games, but this place was huge. On the back wall were a ton of classic video games from Dig Dug to Killer Instinct and a few even broke down so you know they were authentic.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

They had what I called a 80’s living room complete with a couch, a radiation level 6 television and an Atari 2600 and best of all you could sit down and play. Now, while I was still just a baby when the 2600 launched I remember setups that looked exactly like this.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

There were a ton of classic game systems, add-ons and games spread out for display. I recognized many of the systems, but there were a number I did not recognize. I was totally shocked by how huge the cartridge was for Metal Slug. We met a couple of guys from SNK there and they were totally cool so watch for some articles about them coming soon.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

Not only did they have the boxes and items to view there were many classic game systems setup that you could play for yourself including an Atari 2600, N64, Sega Master System and Intelivision and more.

What classic gaming museum exhibit would complete without music. There were two different bands there that played classic music. We were able to record a bit from 8-bit weapon, a duo that plays classic music from Commodore 64, Gameboy and more.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1bmLk5zLI[/youtube]

All in all it was great to see classic gaming displayed in such a way at E3 2011 and we hope we will see more in the future.

Check out all our E3 pictures on our Facebook page.

 

Commercial Wars: Atari in the 80’s

Commercial Wars: Atari in the 80’s

You did not have to be born in the 80’s to appreciate some of the insane commercials that were produced and released during that time.  In the 80’s we had a mix of commercials still influenced by the 70’s combined with the emerging technology of the 80’s with directors and writers trying everything to get you to buy their products.

Atari-Computer-System

Since console gaming was brand new and even arcade gaming itself was not wide spread to the TV watching audience the challenge was presenting their ad in a way that would interest the consumer. In addition, since the graphics of the day were not that exciting the fear was showing simpler graphics on a television screen where you can watch shows that have a higher production value could turn parents off to buying their kids the system. As a result the creativity level for the commercials was, unique.

Joust

My question is why would you want to highlight a home being destroyed over playing a video game? See, the bird knew what was coming and the kid just stood back and watched it happen. What was that thing at the end with him turning into a bird? Oh, I forgot, LSD was still popular back then.

Dig Dug

Know I understand how the war in Iraq came about it was Dig Dug. I really hope our department of defense is not this stupid. However, I think I discovered how Independence Day was made, with the cuts to different locations including “lovers lane” and the dirt moving from under peoples feet. Perhaps it was more like the movie, Tremors.  We jump into crises mode at the White House while dancers shake their butts on screen. You have to love the 80’s.

Come on! Do the Dig Dug Dance!

Asteroids

You know alien’s visited our planet back in the day. What you did not know was they were looking for video games. These people look like a mix between the Andorians from Star Trek and Night Elves from World of Warcraft. The main person looks like Data and they talk like Mork from Mork and Mindy. The good news is they will be too busy playing to enslave us. The bad news is they have the technology to travel to earth, but think Atari graphics are awesome.

Berzerk

So we start off here with an old lady almost nailing a kid in the balls. Old people, they think you can only play Berzerk in the arcades, but now you can play it at home. I think there were millions of bands back in the 80’s whose sole purpose was to sing jingles for commercials. At least we got the “Have you played your Atari today” line.

Solar Fox

This was before Wing Commander and women’s lib, we have the dashing and bored Soul Fox and the bubbling blond eating popcorn while their spaceship flies toward what looks like a 3D chess board. Poor Soul Fox is so annoyed that his busty companion wants to navigate his loins and he only wants to navigate the space field. I know the feeling, wait, no I don’t.

One thing of note, I did not even know of CBS Electronics.

Back to the Future

There you have it, five commercials from Atari made in the 80’s in a style only Puff the Magic Dragon could understand. Now you vote, which was the best.